Born in Texas in 1923, Caroll Shelby was and is an inspiration to all car lovers out there on the road and track today. Shelby suffered from a heart valve leak by the age of 7, which caused many health complications throughout his life. This, however, did not stop him from turning his dreams into a reality.
Before Shelby started racing professionally, cars were just a hobby of his. He only dreamed of building a racecar in his name someday.
His dreams suddenly became more than just dreams in the early 1960s. He could not race anymore because of his heart condition, so he had time on his hands. And when he got word that the British AC ace model car would no longer be in production in England, he saw his chance. Being an entrepreneur, a spark ignited in him. Shelby realized that the light British car could be a perfect match for a powerful American V8 engine. This would be his first opportunity to construct a muscle car of his own.
According to Hemmings, Shelby "contacted AC Cars and they sent him an engine-less body to his shop in California. With some help from Ford Motor Company and a small team of mechanics, the first Shelby Cobra was introduced in 1962." An estimated 654 small-block Cobras and 350 big-block Cobra's were built by Shelby from 1962 to 1968. But he did not stop there. He knew the Cobra had potential, and he then started working to improve the car.
In 1964, Shelby started his plan for the Shelby Cobra 427. He put a huge engine in it, making it one of the fastest racecars of its time. It was unheard of to put such a powerful engine into such a light car, but that didn't stop Shelby. According to Hemmings, the car went from zero to 60 MPH in "just over 4 seconds," and from zero to 100 MPH in "[an] amazing 10.3 seconds." Calling this car impressive is an understatement.
If you're a car lover with a racing hobby and are thinking to yourself that you want one of these, there's some unfortunate news. According to Road and Track, "there is only one genuine, original Shelby Cobra 427 left in the world, and it just sold for $5.1 million." You can probably find a replica out there, but we all know that it isn't the same.
If you want to turn your hobby into a dream come true, remember the story of Carroll Shelby and know that you can. The Shelby Cobra is one of the most popular classic cars out there, and the history of its creator is just as rich as the car's own history.